Three Issues with Freezing Wine:
- You won’t be able to taste it very well. Reducing the temperature of wine kills off the flavours and aromas in it, which need heat in order to diffuse through the air or interact with your tongue. Actually freezing a wine is only really suitable for absolutely atrocious vino.
- Eating wine is just weird. Not many people want to crunch their way through a bottle of frozen Chardonnay. It’s much more convenient to drink it, and if your plan is to drink the melted liquid that comes off a block of frozen wine, it will be no different from refrigerated wine. You might as well just chill it, and it’ll be ready to drink from the fridge.
- The bottle may explode. Any bottle of wine is about 87% water, which expands when frozen. Rather than neatly expanding up through the length of the bottle, the wine will press out in all directions, putting a strain on the bottle’s brittle glass sides. Unopened bottles are also pressurised. You may open your freezer one day to find glass shards all over a mass of frozen wine sludge. That means it isn’t a good way to store your prize vintages either, and this article notes how to store your wine properly or crazily.
So What’s All This I Hear About ‘Ice Wine’?Ice wine is delicious. It’s also not frozen, but rather, it’s a liquid wine which is the product of grapes that froze on the vine and were harvested while still frigid. In fact, that’s what makes it so tasty. Much of the frozen water stays in the wine press, while the flavour molecules seep out into the maceration tanks. The result is an incredibly concentrated dessert wine, which is also very rare. The grapes need warm growing conditions, and then a shockingly cold harvest. As a result, it’s only possible to make ice wine in the Niagara region of Canada, and in special years in Germany. Grab a bottle if you see one.
Does Wine Freeze In the Vineyard?Freezing wine is actually part of making good sparkling wine. In any bottle made through the traditional method, there will be sediment made of dead yeast cells and fine particles of grape skin. To get these out of the bottle, it’s very delicately turned upside down over a period of several months - getting just a little more vertical each day. This infuriating task is another reason it’s more fun to drink wine than to make it. Finally, when the sediment is at the cap, the neck of the bottle is frozen, and they very quickly open the bottle to remove the plug of sediment. The process means that some wine will be lost, which is why champagne bottles traditionally had foil all around the neck. It stopped people seeing that they weren’t getting a full bottle!
I Froze or Chilled My Wine and Now There are Crystals at the BottomDon’t panic! Those are called tartrate crystals, which are harmless, and their presence or removal does not affect the taste of your wine. They often appear in white wine which hasn’t been subject to ‘cold stabalisation’, which is just a process of removing those crystals before the wine is sold. The potassium bitartrate that causes them is an inert, natural residue of the winemaking process.